Ocean col­lec­tion, by Nanna & Jør­gen Ditzel and Mater

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Pho­tog­ra­phy: Ni­co­laj Didrik­sen Writer: Natalia rach­lin

Reis­sues have taken the fur­ni­ture busi­ness by storm in re­cent years, as brands – in­clud­ing many Dan­ish ones – scour the archives of late de­sign greats for over­looked gems beg­ging to be put back into pro­duc­tion. Now Mater, the sus­tain­ably minded de­sign la­bel founded in Copen­hagen in 2006, has joined the re­launch frenzy with a se­ries of gar­den fur­ni­ture by one of the most cel­e­brated duos of Dan­ish de­sign, the late Nanna and Jør­gen Ditzel. Thanks to a bit of eco edge, this re­make prom­ises to be un­like any other: rather than sim­ply rein­tro­duce a vin­tage de­sign, Mater has reimag­ined the ta­ble-and-chair col­lec­tion in ocean waste plas­tic (it was orig­i­nally de­signed in 1955 and re­alised in tim­ber ve­neer), cre­at­ing a truly for­ward­think­ing back­ward glance.

‘I feel that man­u­fac­tur­ers have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to look se­ri­ously into waste and up­cy­cling – to take what has zero value, or what is, in fact, a prob­lem for the planet, and ma­ture it through nice de­signs from the past or present,’ says Hen­rik Marstrand, Mater founder and CEO. ‘If we can cre­ate a prod­uct that is at­trac­tive, func­tional and durable, while clean­ing up af­ter the side ef­fects of our col­lec­tive con­sumerism, it’s a win-win.’ Made us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of ocean plas­tic waste (pri­mar­ily used fish­nets col­lected from the Dan­ish west coast), PP re­gen­er­ate (mostly re­cy­cled plas­tic from milk trans­port cases) and a dash of bio­plas­tic char­coal, which adds sta­bil­ity so the plas­tic doesn’t crack, the Ocean col­lec­tion rep­re­sents a con­sid­er­able shift for Mater. To date, the brand has been known for work­ing ex­clu­sively with con­tem­po­rary de­sign­ers (such as Space Copen­hagen and Todd Bracher) on or­ganic, of­ten wooden de­signs. This new plas­tic-cen­tric pro­ject has al­lowed it to di­ver­sify its col­lec­tion and ven­ture into more ac­ces­si­ble prod­ucts.

Orig­i­nally pro­duced by Kolds Sav­vaerk un­til the late 1950s, the chair and two ta­bles were first de­signed for the Ditzels’ per­sonal use. ‘That’s my guess, at least,’ says the cou­ple’s daugh­ter Den­nie Ditzel, who has looked af­ter the Ditzel archive since her mother’s death in 2005. ‘I don’t al­ways know for what pur­pose things were made, but it was of­ten be­cause my par­ents couldn’t find any­thing on the mar­ket that met their cri­te­ria.’

Den­nie notes that the se­ries’ sim­ple shapes and light­ness (both in weight and sil­hou­ette) epit­o­mise the Ditzels’ de­sign sen­si­bil­ity, which was at once pre­cise, prac­ti­cal and play­ful. Nanna trained as a cab­i­net­maker and be­came one of Den­mark’s most pro­lific fe­male de­sign­ers, while Jør­gen was an up­hol­sterer by trade. To­gether, they cre­ated count­less sig­nif­i­cant de­signs across fur­ni­ture, jew­ellery and tex­tiles. In all me­dia, their use of ma­te­ri­als of­ten broke with con­ven­tion. ‘My mother would have been thrilled that we’re us­ing ocean waste plas­tic,’ says Den­nie. ‘She was fas­ci­nated by new ma­te­ri­als and al­ways ex­per­i­ment­ing with them, so this would just be ideal for her – this is very much in her spirit.’

Mater is al­ready con­tem­plat­ing its next Ditzel pro­ject: a po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tion on a se­ries of vin­tage ac­ces­sory de­signs made from re­cy­cled glass. For now, all fo­cus will be on Ocean, which will be avail­able for dis­tri­bu­tion from 1 Fe­bru­ary, ahead of a for­mal launch in April, dur­ing Salone del Mo­bile in Mi­lan.

‘We’re hop­ing this new Ocean col­lec­tion helps set a prece­dent for other de­sign brands not just to talk about sus­tain­abil­ity, but to make it a re­al­ity – to put it into prac­tice, and soon. Of course we also want to push our­selves to con­tinue this ex­plo­ration, and prove that an eco prod­uct can make sense: it can be beau­ti­ful, it can be cost-ef­fec­tive, it’s pos­si­ble as a busi­ness to both profit and solve a prob­lem,’ con­cludes Marstrand. ‘This is me be­ing a bit op­ti­mistic, sure, but imag­ine if this Ocean se­ries was a great suc­cess – maybe one day we would run out of fish­net waste to use! That would be quite some­thing.’

‘Ocean’ chairs, from £175 each; ta­ble, from £330, by Nanna & Jør­gen Ditzel, from Mater, ma­ter­de­

Above, Mater CEO Hen­rik Marstrand with Den­nie Ditzel, daugh­ter and ar­chiv­ist of Nanna and Jør­gen DitzelBelow, the orig­i­nal steel­framed and tim­ber ve­neer pieces. The reis­sues have been scaled up by five per cent to ac­com­mo­date mod­ern pro­por­tions, but oth­er­wise their form re­mains iden­ti­cal

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